stole this from Elyse…
When you consider something like death, after which (there being no news flash to the contrary) we may well go out like a candle flame, then it probably doesn’t matter if we try too hard, are awkward sometimes, care for one another too deeply, are excessively curious about nature, are too open to experience, enjoy a nonstop expense of the senses in an effort to know life intimately and lovingly. It probably doesn’t matter if, while trying to be modest and eager watchers of life’s many spectacles, we sometimes look clumsy or get dirty or ask stupid questions or reveal our ignorance or say the wrong thing or light up with wonder like the children we all are… Or a neighbor, fetching her mail, sees us standing in the cold with our own letters in one hand & a seismically red autumn leaf in the other, its color hitting our senses like a blow from a stun gun, as we stand with a huge grin, too paralyzed by the intricately veined gaudiness of the leaf to move.
Don’t Be So Quick To Judge
Here’s the bottom line.
You just don’t know.
You just don’t know what’s going on in another person’s life.
You just don’t know the entire situation and the circumstances that are involved.
You just don’t know what’s going on in another person’s head.
As humans, when we meet one another, we instinctively gather as much information as we can from our interaction and based on that information, which is akin the size of a small puzzle piece, we try to construct the entire jigsaw puzzle of that person using only that small puzzle piece. You can’t. You just can’t do that.
For example, you meet someone for the first time and he seems a bit rude, a bit standoffish, not very graceful in terms of social manners, and appears a bit angry. We take that information and paint that person as just that in everyday life, when in reality, he could’ve just been having a bad day. A deal might’ve not gone through at work, maybe he didn’t get the raise he wanted, or maybe he just had a bad fight with his wife.
You don’t know.
You just don’t know.
Yet, we do have a natural tendency to try to make sense of things of the information we have and like that example pointed out, the problem is that the information we have is too small. It’s not enough. It’s like a grain of sand compared to a beach.
Obviously, the more time you spend with another person, the more pieces you can gather to construct a better overall picture, but this article is mainly geared toward those who we’re not that close to yet, acquaintances, new friends, co-workers, etc.
I knew one person who many people judged to be as very “arrogant”. He rarely talked in social situations and tended to keep quiet in group conversations and stayed away from people in general. Many people thought he was too “cool” to talk with them, that he thought he was above or better than them in some way. I was curious about him so I befriended him and we had a candid talk and I was surprised at what I found. He was not the least bit arrogant at all. On the contrary, he was quite humble.
And as we talked, I realized what this was all about. He was a classic introvert. He enjoyed spending time alone. He didn’t really particularly care for small talk. He liked conversation, but only when it involved deep, stimulating talk. He felt drained at parties and with talking with people so he needed to recharge by being alone with his thoughts. He had absolutely no clue that other people perceived him to be arrogant. He was just doing what was comfortable for him.
Going a bit off tangent here, I think there’s a big misconception when the word introvert is used in mainstream society. An introvert is usually correlated with someone who is extremely shy, has low self confidence, low self esteem, or maybe even someone who is antisocial but that is simply not true at all.
Introverts mainly draw energy by being by themselves. They feel at peace when they are alone. Extroverts mainly draw energy from being around other people and feel in their element, so to speak, with others.
It’s just a different preference of orientation when it comes to getting energy, one comes from within, the other without.
An introvert can give a great, inspiring, riveting speech to tens of thousands of people, but when talking with a small group of people, he can feel drained and want to drift away in his own thoughts.
Again, it’s mainly a preference, nothing more.
There is a difference between a true introvert and a person who is shy and wants to socialize. The introvert feels comfortable in his own skin and doesn’t have the desire to socialize as much as the next person, while the shy person who wants to socialize may suffer from social anxiety, low self esteem, low self confidence, etc.
Going back to that introverted person, it’s easy to see how people can judge him by his behavior and label him as arrogant.
Now, it may seem like little harm is done when one person mistakenly judges him as arrogant, but the real trouble starts when that one person starts to “paint” him as arrogant to others, so when other people meet him for the first time, his behavior is automatically filtered to justify this “painting of arrogance” that they were led to believe and lo and behold, the “painting” becomes justified.
Within very close social circles, people’s reputation can become greatly harmed through this type of quick judgment coupled with gossip.
To be perfectly honest, I’ve heard the admonition of don’t be quick to judge as well, but only in my head. It wasn’t drilled into my heart. I’ll admit that I did judge a person based on first impressions in the past and I don’t think I’m alone in that. We can’t help it. We do it automatically.
I remember the first time the thought of not judging someone based on first impressions really hit me was way back in freshman year of college.
It was a new school, with new students, and the first day of class, I made some acquaintances, and “sized up” the students in the classroom and automatically built profiles in my head based on observations and some casual interaction that were later to be completely shattered by the end of the quarter.
As if someone gathered all the nuclear bombs in the world and set them off in front of the mental profiles that I had constructed in my mind in the beginning of the quarter. I was so embarrassed at how completely wrong I was that I didn’t trust my own judgment from first impressions from that moment on down to this very day.
I’d like to give some examples, but to be honest, I’m a bit embarrassed to put it out there.
And I know this seems like common knowledge to a lot of people and I’m sure it is.
But it’s probably common knowledge in their head. Not in their heart.
There is a huge difference between the two.
Take for example, a person who has heard all his life not to drink and drive. Yet, he goes to the bar and downs a few drinks and chooses to drive home and on the way home, he nearly crashes his car in the center divider.
That experience can really drill what we have inside our heads into our hearts and it’s from that experience that we really “get it”. We understand and we never forget from that point on. And that’s important. It’s not enough to know in your head. You have to know it in your heart.
Passing quick judgment is a very dangerous habit because once we’ve judged someone, all our thoughts, actions, behaviors become dictated by the judgment we have of that other person and we literally create a filter for that specific person and that’s just not fair. It really isn’t.
Remember the introverted person I was talking about? Guess how many people would start a conversation with him to get to really know him? Very little. Very little. Why?
Because they’ve already passed judgment on him as arrogant. Their behavior was filtered through that so they don’t take the time to get to really know him and that’s a shame. You end up treating someone a certain way based on a picture that can be, and is usually (at least in the beginning) completely wrong. Completely wrong. And should you spread your judgment to others, it only compounds the situation even worse.
So keep an open mind. You don’t know the whole story. You just don’t know. But you can, if you just keep an open mind and take the initiative to find out.